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Government zero hours review branded ‘inadequate’

Business secretary Vince Cable’s review into zero-hours contracts is “inadequate” and should be subject to a more thorough investigation, an employment group has said today.

The Work Foundation called for a more in-depth review in order to identify how widespread zero-hours contracts are, and how and why they are being used.

Figures on how many workers are predicted to be on such contracts varies. The Office for National Statistics said 200,000 people were on zero-hours contracts last year, while the CiPD said it could be as many as one million.

The ONS announced last week that it is to change the way it calculates the number of people on zero-hours contracts.  

The use of zero-hours contracts, which give workers no guarantee of how many hours they will work and tend not to give employees any sick and holiday pay, has come under fire in recent months.

The Work Foundation’s call for a more “systematic investigation” into the use of such contracts comes as the group launches a report detailing questioning existing official statistics.

The report found that zero-hours contracts are used by 6% of retailers.  

Other statistics found that 44% of those on zero-hours contracts had remained for two years or more with the same employer and 25% for five years or more; 75% had been in a job for more than two years.

A quarter of workers on such contracts said they would like to work more hours, three quarters of such workers did not want more hours.

Ian Brinkley, author of the report, said: “The investigation announced by Vince Cable is inadequate. We favour a far more systematic approach – perhaps along the lines of the Hutton Fair Pay Review which The Work Foundation would again be happy to support. A fuller investigation would enable accurate analysis and such data would help devise effective policy measures and map out best employer practice to protect workers most vulnerable to potential abuse.”

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